The good, the bad and the ugly of saying goodbye to Grandma.

Grandma leaves today.  I’ve written this post in advance and set it to go live today because I expect I’ll be busy doing goodbye Grandma things today.  And I certainly probably won’t feel like posting tonight.  As you’d expect, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it will be like when Grandma leaves, how things will change around here and what will be good about that and what won’t be good about it.  Grandma’s been here since mid-January and was here, off and on, for about 5 months of TT’s first year as well.  So there’s going to be a lot of adjustments and a lot of grieving.  And it’s not just that Grandma is going.  As a consequence, I’ll be working from home full-time and that brings a truckload of changes as well.

The Good:

  • TT gets her room back.  In January TT was 12 months old, terribly sick and reliably awake for most of the night.  Co-sleeping was the only way I could cope and I had no real thought of moving TT into her own room.  Now, TT goes to sleep on her own after a quick cuddle with me, and she often self-settles in the night if she wakes up.  She still does come in with me but it’s not every night and I expect hope that we both will sleep better in separate rooms.  It’s not just the sleeping arrangements that will change.  TT and I have been living out of laundry baskets and plastic tubs because her room was being used by someone else.  It will be nice to have things in their proper places and bring some order to the chaos of the house.
  • I’m a stricter mum.  Grandma is a bit of a soft touch.  She tends to be guided by what she thinks TT wants or needs, and lets things unfold in relaxed kind of way.  This means sometimes TT doesn’t get lunch until she wakes from her nap at 3 or even later, and sometimes she doesn’t nap at all, and sometimes she has an extra bottle.  I’m much more strict and I tend to stick to routines.  TT needs her routines because they ensure that she’s eating and sleeping properly and prevent her getting stressed, which makes everything else go tits up.  I’ve often commented to Grandma that if she was the one who had to get TT to sleep at night she wouldn’t be letting her day time routine get out of order.  Of course, it’s easier to be strict when you only have to do it a couple of days a week.  It will be interesting to see if I can keep it up when I’m back to being a full time SAHM.
  • I’m going to be spending a lot more time with my nieces and nephew.  This is going to be AWESOME for me and for TT.
  • I’ve written before about how much I’m looking forward to working from home because I think I’ll work better.  Enough said.  I am REALLY looking forward to it.
  • I’m really looking forward to eating differently and exercising more.  I can’t wait for this part of it.
  • I’m looking forward to having time to experiment more with recipes for TT.  She’s got four teeth now (all on the bottom) and she’s getting older and can cope with different textures.  I would like to expand our repertoire.
  • I get to live alone again (with TT).  This will help with the crazy.  I’m looking forward to feeling a lot more rational and less like I have to retreat and hide from my life.
  • I will have more flexibility and time to spend time with my much-neglected friends.  My friendships have been the first casualties of this hectic year.  I’m back people!
  • I’m looking forward to doing things with TT outside of our existing routine.  I’m looking forward to having days that aren’t dominated by our current timeline of therapy in the mornings, working in the arvo, dinnner/bath/bed.  There’s more to life, motherhood and childhood than this.

The Bad:

  • I’m going to miss my mum.  A lot.  I’m glad we aren’t going to be living together, but I wish we weren’t going to be living so far apart.  I wish we lived in the same city.  I get along really well with my mum.  I love her.  I respect her.  I count her as a friend and ally.  I’m very lucky to have her in my life.  I wish she was going to be a daily presence the way that my dad is.
  • Grandma is a better playmate than I am.  Grandma is good at spending endless hours colouring in, playing pretend, doing puzzles, reading the same books over and over, blowing bubbles, pottering in the garden, painting and drawing, playing with blocks, playing farm animals, dancing and singing.  I’m not good at that stuff and I don’t particularly enjoy it (although I enjoy watching it).  I get bored, lose interest and get distracted.  I am good at other aspects of parenting, but not this stuff.  I’m either going to have to work hard to overcome my limitations in this area, or be completely inadequate.  Neither option appeals much.
  • I’ve got some adjustments to make as far as freedom goes.  When you’re a single parent, there’s no such thing as just popping to the shops or accepting a spontaneous dinner invitation.  Although I’ve been very careful not to abuse Mum’s presence in our home, there have been a small handful of opportunities that I’ve had to attend a party, have drinks with friends, duck out for a quick and unimpeded errand and all those things that you never think about until you have a small dependent creature attached to you.  It will take a while to get back into the single parent mindset.
  • The housework and the garden maintenance is going to go down the toilet.  Anyone who knows my mother knows that she’s more than a little obsessive about cleaning and tidying and keeping the garden looking nice.  My house has never looked so good, been so clean or so comfortable.  Not only am I not physically capable of maintaining the same standards, I just don’t think about it in the same way.  I don’t fill in time by vacuuming or dusting or mowing.  I’ll miss my gleaming house and lovely garden.
  • One of the benefits of having two people in the house is having two incomes in the house.  If we run out of groceries and it’s two days before my pay day, Grandma has some cash.  If the power bill is higher than expected, Grandma will chip in a bit to help cover the load.  Although I think our expenses will go down dramatically (food, power, and water use will all drop by heaps), I’ll miss the convenience of having another income to draw upon at times.  From that side of things, money management will be harder.
  • The relentlessness of parenting is the toughest challenge in my opinion.  There’s no escape if you need one and those times when you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’ve got no choice but to get over your whelm.  Having Grandma there has made this aspect of things much easier, because if I have to I can walk away, and know that TT is in good hands.  I won’t have that safety net anymore.

The Ugly:

  • TT loves her Grandma so very very much.  I do believe that Grandma leaving will be as hurtful to TT as if I left.  TT can’t remember a time when Grandma wasn’t living with us.  She spends most of her time with her Grandma.  Her Grandma is her playmate and they have so much fun together.  TT is going to miss her very much and I grieve for the disruption to their beautiful relationship.
  • Grandma introduced TT to TV, made it a part of their daily lives together and now TT is demanding and peremptory about it and wants it on all day in the background.  I hate TV being on during the day, whether it’s the Wiggles or soap operas.  I can’t stand it.  I want to try to wean TT off TV, but that will be a challenge for two reasons.  Firstly, it’s just going to be a horrible challenge, as anyone who has tried to do it will attest.  Secondly, I will be working from home, at least part of the time that TT is awake.  TV makes a great distraction for her and lets me get on with work.  So I’m a bit worried I might be shooting myself in the food if I go hard core about no TV.  And TT doesn’t do things by halves.  There’s no point trying to say you can have 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the arvo.  That’s not going to work until she’s older and can have conversations and be reasoned with.  And that’s a way off yet.
  • My father and my brother will be upset about Mum leaving.  I can’t deal with their crap.  I’ve got my own crap to deal with.

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